The basic premise of yoga theory is
the fundamental unity of all existence: God, man, and all of creation
are ultimately one divine reality. An editorial in the Yoga Journal declares
this basic premise:
We are all aware that yoga means
"union" and that the practice of yoga unites body, breath, and
mind, lower and higher energy centers and, ultimately self and God, or
higher Self. But more broadly, yoga directs our attention to the unity
or oneness that underlies our fragmented experiences and equally
fragmented world. Family, friends, the Druze guerrilla in Lebanon, the
great whale migrating north—all share the same essential [divine]
This is why physical yoga and Eastern philosophy are
mutually interdependent; ultimately, you cannot have one without the
other. David Fetcho, a researcher with an extensive background in yoga
theory and practice, states:
Physical yoga, according to its classical
definitions, is inheritably and functionally incapable of being
separated from Eastern religious metaphysics. The Western practitioner
who attempts to do so is operating in ignorance and danger, from the
yogi’s viewpoint, as well as from the Christian’s. 2
One of the leading contemporary
authorities on kundalini yoga is Gopi Krishna. In his article "The
True Aim of Yoga," he says: "The aim of yoga, then, is to
achieve the state of unity or oneness with God, Brahman, [and] spiritual
Yoga authorities Feuerstein and Miller comment that
the postures (asana) of yoga and its breathing techniques (pranayama)
are much more than just physical exercises:
Again, we see that the control of the
vital energy (prana) by way of breathing, like also asana, is
not merely a physical exercise, but is accompanied by certain
psychomental phenomena. In other words, all techniques falling under the
heading of asana and pranayama as, for example, the mudras
and bandhas [physical positions or symbolic bodily gestures
utilizing pranayama and concentration for physical or spiritual
purposes] of Hathayoga, are psychosomatic exercises. This point,
unfortunately, is little understood by Western practitioners.… 4
Actually, yoga practice is intended to validate
occult yoga theory. And as noted, yoga theory teaches that everything
is, in its true inner nature, divine—not only divine but ultimately
equal to everything else—everything from God and the devil to the
athlete and the AIDS virus.
Yoga theory also teaches that in their outer nature,
everything is maya, or illusion. For example, only in his inner
spirit is man divine; his "outer nature," of body and
personality, are ultimately a delusion that separates him from awareness
of his real inner divinity. Thus, another purpose of yoga must be to
slowly dismantle the outer personality—man’s illusory part—so the
supposed impersonal divinity can progressively emerge" from within
his hidden divine consciousness.
This is why people who practice yoga only
for physical or mental health reasons are ultimately the victims of a
confidence game. They are promised better health; little do they
suspect the end goal of yoga is to destroy them as individuals.
As yoga authorities Feuerstein and Miller comment, yoga results in
"a progressive dismantling of human personality ending in a
complete abolition. With every step (anga) of Yoga, what we call
‘man’ is demolished a little more." 5
In "Yoga as Methods of
Liberation," Moti Lal Pandit observes that (as in Buddhism)
"the aim of yoga is to realize liberation from the human condition.
To achieve this liberation, various psychological, physical, mental, and
mystical methods have been devised. All those methods are anti-social
(sometimes even antihuman) in that yoga prescribes a way of life which
says: this mortal life is not worth living." 6
Yoga is, after all, a religious practice
seeking to produce "union" with an impersonal ultimate
reality, such as Brahman or Nirvana. If ultimate reality is impersonal,
of what final value is one’s own personality? For a person to achieve
true "union" with Brahman, his "false" self must be
destroyed and replaced with awareness of his true divine nature. That is
the specific goal of yoga. If we examine yoga theory in more detail, it
is easier to understand why yoga practice has such specific occult
One of the most authoritative texts on
yoga theory within the Hindu perspective is Patanjali’s text on raja
Yoga titled Yoga Sutras. 7 In this text, he puts forth the
traditional eight "limbs," or parts, of yoga. These are
defined within the context of a basic Hindu worldview (reincarnation, karma,
and moksha, or liberation) and intended to support and reinforce
Hindu beliefs. Each "limb" has a spiritual goal and together
they form a unit. These eight limbs are:
1. Yama (self-control,
restraint, devotion to the gods [e.g., Krishna] or the final
impersonal God [e.g., Brahman]
2. Niyama (religious
duties, prohibitions, observances)
3. Asana (proper
postures for yoga practices; these represent the first stage in the
isolation of consciousness and are vital components for
"transcending the human condition" 8)
4. Pranayama (the control
and directing of the breath and the alleged divine energy within the
human body [prana] to promote health and spiritual [occult]
consciousness and evolution)
5. Pratyahara (sensory
control or deprivation, i.e., withdrawal of the senses from attachment
to external objects)
6. Dharana (deeper
concentration, or mind control)
7. Dhyana (deep
contemplation from occult meditation)
8. Samadhi (occult
enlightenment or "God [Brahman] realization" i.e.,
"union" of the "individual" with God).
Because the eight steps are interdependent, the steps
of "postures" and "breathing" cannot logically be
separated from the others. Thus, the interdependence of all eight steps
reveals why the physical exercises of yoga are designed to
prepare the body for the spiritual (occult) changes that will allegedly
help one realize godhood status.
The concept of prana ("breath")
is a key to the process. Pranayama refers to the knowledge and
control of prana, or mystical energy, not merely to the control
of one’s physical breath. 9 Prana is believed to be universal
divine energy residing behind the material world (akasa). Prana
is said to have five forms, and all energy is thought to be a
manifestation of it. Swami Nikhilananada describes it in his Vivekananda—The
Yogas and Other Works as "the infinite, omnipresent manifesting
power of this universe." 10 Perfect control of prana makes
one God. One can have "infinite knowledge, infinite power,
What power on earth would not be his?
He would be able to move the sun and stars out of their places, to
control everything in the universe from the atoms to the biggest suns.
This is the end and aim of pranayama. When the yogi becomes perfect
there will be nothing in nature not under his control. If he orders
the gods or the souls of the departed to come, they will come at his
bidding. All the forces of nature will obey him as slaves.... He who
has controlled prana has controlled his own mind and all the minds...
and all the bodies that exist.… 11
The aim of pranayama is also to arouse the
coiled-up power in the muladhara chakra called kundalini:
Then the whole of nature will begin to
change and the door of [psychic] knowledge will open. No more will you
need to go to books for knowledge; your own mind will have become your
book, containing infinite knowledge. 12
According to Vivekananda, all occult manifestations
are accomplished through yogic control of prana:
We see in every country sects that
attempted the control of prana. In this country there are mind-healers,
spiritualists, Christian Scientists, hypnotists, and so on. If we
examine these different sects, we shall find at the back of each is the
control of prana, whether they know it or not. If you boil all the
theories down, the residuum will be that. It is one and the same force
they are manipulating.... Thus we see that pranayama includes all that
is true even of spiritualism. Similarly, you will find that wherever any
sect or body of people is trying to discover anything occult,
mysterious, or hidden, they are really practicing some sort of yoga to
control their prana. You will find that wherever there is any
extraordinary display of power, it is the manifestation of prana. 13
In other words, prana, God, and occult energy
are all one and the same. The one who practices yogic breathing (pranayama)
is by definition attempting to manipulate occult
1. Editorial, Yoga Journal, May/June 1984, p.
2. David Fetcho, "Yoga," Berkeley, CA:
Spiritual Counterfeits Project, 1978, p. 2.
3. Gopi Krishna, "The True Aim of Yoga," Psychic,
January-February, 1973, p. 14.
4. George Feuerstein, Jeanine Miller, Yoga and
Beyond: Essays in Indian Philosophy, New York: Schocken, 1972, pp.
5. Ibid., p. 8.
6. Moti Lal Pandit, "Yoga as Methods of
Liberation," Update: A Quarterly Journal on New Religious
Movements, Aarhus, Denmark: The Dialogue Center, vol. 9, no. 4,
December, 1995, p. 41.
7. e. g. Rammurti S. Mishra, Yoga Sutras: The
Textbook of Yoga Psychology, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1973.
8. Mircea Eliade, Yoga Immortality and Freedom,
trans. Willard R. Trask, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
1973, p. 54.
9. Swami Nikhilananda, Vivekananda, The Yogas and
Other Works, New York: Ramadrishna and Vivekananda Center, 1953, p.
11. Ibid, pp. 592-93.
12. Ibid., p. 605.
13. Ibid., pp. 593, 599.